CGA’s OPM data reveals that while the market isn’t quite back to pre-COVID-19 levels, in 2022 total drinks volumes sales increased by 41% in Northern Ireland and 83% in the Republic of Ireland compared to the previous year. LAD’s took the top spot as the winning category, increasing value by €1.2 billion in the Republic of Ireland and £97.6 million in Northern Ireland as consumers sought out draught serves that the Off Premise couldn’t recreate during closures.
Looking at the other categories, a third of consumers chose to drink Cocktails – with the category increasing by 8% vs 2021. During the festive period they became the 3rd most popular category amongst visitors, and 45% of consumers chose Cocktails for a treat or special occasion. 62% of consumers in Ireland also said they’re more likely to pay extra for a better quality Cocktail – highlighting the premiumisation opportunities for this category in the On Premise.
The later day parts (after 8pm) saw Spirits taking the top spot, and with the return of nightclub and late-night bars allowing consumers to make up for the late night occasions they missed during COVID-19 restrictions. High tempo drinks occasions were most important over key celebratory dates like New Year’s Eve and Boxing Day. This contributed to value gains for the Spirits category in Q4, where it had its highest share of total drinks value, winning share from LAD in both countries.
City centres and towns regained trade in the first full year without restrictions with Dublin gaining share of ROI vs 2021, and cosmopolitan consumers’ confidence in visiting the On Premise increased by 18% vs 2021. This led to more frequent visits and a higher than average monthly spend out of home. Amongst this consumer segment, 55% visited the On Premise at least weekly +11pp more than the average consumer.
As confidence in drink-led occasions returned, Restaurants lost share of value vs 2021 while Pubs gained the most in Northern Ireland and Bars took the top spot in ROI, with these two channels recovering best vs pre-COVID-19 levels.
Consumers made up for missed opportunities in previous years, with occasions such as after-work drinks seeing an 11% increase as workers returned to the office. Special occasions were also key for consumers looking to celebrate, with this being the most popular event amongst consumers.
Towards the end of the year there was a pessimistic view of visiting the On Premise, with the cost of living crisis being prevalent in Irish consumers’ minds. 43% were unsure if they would visit, with some even planning on not going out over Christmas. However, the Ireland On Premise saw 88% going out for food and drinks in December, with 30% of consumers who went out more than previous years, once again, motivated by missing out on those all-important occasions due to COVID-19 in previous years.
The ‘making up for missed time’ attitude was key in driving Q4’s performance to be the strongest quarter of the year as it reached 97% of Q4 2019 value in ROI and 91% in NI – the closest to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and even over-indexing by 8% (ROI) and 5% (NI) vs the year as a whole.
Sian Brennan, CGA by NielsenIQ client director – Ireland, said: “It’s clear that 2022 saw consumers in Ireland looking to make up for lost time, with many visiting the On Premise for those important special and celebratory occasions that they had missed during COVID-19 restrictions. While there was some pessimism in the pre-Christmas period due to cost of living concerns, ultimately consumers couldn’t stay away from their favourite pubs, bars, and restaurants. This reinforces how important this channel is to consumers, and that despite rising costs, the On Premise remains a key priority.”
CGA by NielsenIQ’s OPM (On Premise Measurement) solution’s best-in-class data gives pubs, bars, restaurants and drinks suppliers statistically robust analytics around On Premise trends at a national and local level. To learn how the market-leading data and expert analysis can track volume and value, and identify growth opportunities, contact Sian Brennan, client director – Ireland at email@example.com